National Geographic’s Best Photos of 2011

As the year is coming to a close, magazines and sites are wrapping up with a celebration of the best 2011 had to offer. National Geographic, known for collecting the most rare and extraordinary shots of nature all over the world, has recently gathered together the best photos of the year all in one spot. Shots of people, places, and nature were carefully chosen by editors and viewers as the best of National Geographic’s photo contests this year.





The winner this year’s Places category is a beautifully composed shot of a rainbow over the Philippines' Onuk Island after a storm, taken by photographer George Tapan. However, even the runners up match its beauty. From Florida to Nepal, the Places category captures fantastic moments from all around the world. The People category is home to photos that tell entire stories in brief moments. Its winner, The Fjellman Family, taken by Izabelle Nordfjell, raises more questions than it answers. A father points a shotgun toward something offscreen as a child covers his ears, turned away from a car window. It’s as ominous as a movie moment, before a monster strikes. An ordinary moment, which was a simple hunting trip, is turned into something curious and extraordinary by the photographer. The Nature category, in contrast, captures what has always been around us in extraordinary ways. Its winning photographer, Shikhei Goh, looks toward the tiny and creates a larger than life photo. “Splashing” is a photo of a dragonfly struggling to hold onto a twig at the sudden onset of rain. The lighting makes the rain look like sparks, and highlights the creature’s translucent wings.

Viewers can’t help but root for the little bug as it struggles against something that seems so much bigger than wind and rain. Feelings like these are evoked by so many of these pictures because the experience of the scene becomes real to so many. If each picture is a story, then these photographers are skilled storytellers, carefully choosing how to tell each tale.

A gallery of each winner and runner up is up at National Geographic’s site! Below is a small gallery of some of the best.